WHAT IS ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a ​neurodevelopmental condition that affects children and adults.

ADHD can present in many different ways but is most commonly characterised by certain behavioural symptoms, which can largely be grouped under the categories of inattentiveness, impulsivity and hyperactivity.

The symptoms of ADHD

Inattentiveness is the inability to focus one's attention towards a specific target. Observable symptoms of ADHD that fall under the category of inattentiveness might include:

  • Procrastination

  • Poor organisational skills

  • Poor time-management skills

  • Daydreaming

  • Forgetfullness

  • Being easily distracted 

Impulsivity refers to a tendency to act on a whim, without forethought, reflection or the consideration of consequences. Observable symptoms that fall under the category of hyperactivity might include:

  • Impatience

  • Difficulty in waiting for one's turn

  • Speaking at inappropriate times

  • Blurting out answers in class

  • Frequently interrupting or intruding on others

 

Hyperactivity refers to excessive physical movement. It is more commonly observed in younger children than in teens and adults. Observable symptoms that fall under the category of hyperactivity might include:

  • Excessive talking

  • Fidgeting, especially when seated

  • Running and climbing when inappropriate

  • Inability to play quietly

  • Restlessness

People with ADHD are often classified as one of three 'types', depending on the symptoms that they most commonly experience. Those who experience many of the hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms and fewer of the inattentiveness symptoms are referred to as having Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Type ADHD. Those who experience many of the inattentiveness symptoms and fewer of the hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms are referred to as having Predominantly Inattentive Type ADHD. Those who experience many symptoms of both types re referred to as having Combined Type ADHD.

 

What causes ADHD?

 

It might be most helpful to start by mentioning a few of the things that don't cause ADHD! There are still A LOT of misconceptions out there that need to be put to bed once and for all...

  • ADHD is not caused by bad parenting

  • ADHD is not caused by too much sugar consumption

  • ADHD is not caused by watching too much TV

  • ADHD is not caused by playing too many video games

All of the things I've just mentioned can have a negative impact on children; not just children with ADHD but all children. These things may even elicit certain behaviours in children that are commonly associated with ADHD, such as hyperactivity or impulsivity. However, despite the fact that they are able to cause ADHD-like symptoms, they are not causes of ADHD. If all of those negative influences were removed from the life of a person with ADHD, they would still have ADHD.

So where does ADHD come from?

The exact cause or causes of ADHD are not yet fully known. But there is plenty that we do know, from decades of scientific research:

 

  • We know that ADHD is caused by biological factors and not social factors. That's not to say that social factors are not critical to the experience of a person with ADHD, just that they are not causes of it.

  • We know that ADHD is a highly genetic condition. Around two-thirds of children that are born with ADHD have at least one parent that has ADHD too.

  • We know that ADHD can also be acquired (i.e. non-genetic) and this usually occurs during pregnancy, as a result of various possible bio-hazards that may have affected the pregnant mother.

  • We know that certainly specific areas of the brain are underdeveloped in people with ADHD: predominantly the frontal lobe.

 

What's the difference between ADD & ADHD?

The terms ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD are often used interchangeably. Historically, ADD has sometimes been used to describe people who display many of the symptoms of ADHD, but without the symptoms of hyperactivity. However, as mentioned above, this is now more commonly referred to as 'Predominantly Inattentive Type ADHD'.

As it happens, there are many who now believe that both ADD and ADHD are inaccurate names for the condition.

Firstly, many would argue that people with ADHD don't have an attention deficit at all. Quite the opposite - when something interests them, they can often focus more intensely than the average person (we call this 'hyper-focus'). However, when something is of little interest to them, they find it much more challenging to direct their attention to it than someone who doesn't have ADHD. So perhaps what we have here is not a deficit of attention but a challenge in regulating the focus of one's attention.

Secondly, it is argued that, rather than being a disorder, ADHD is actually a difference in brain wiring that leads to different challenges and also different strengths. Many of the challenges faced by people with ADHD come from the fact that our world isn't always best equipped to cater for people who are different. School is an excellent example of this, where typically children are all asked to learn things in a single, uniform way. Studies have shown that when children with ADHD are given the opportunity to learn in ways to which their brains are better suited, they display the same levels of intelligence and achievement as children who don't have ADHD.

But, when all is said and done, regardless of whether or not we like the name ADHD, for now, that's what we have to work with...

Do you still have questions about ADHD? Click here now to arrange a free introductory phone call. I look forward to hearing from you.

​© 2019 Aron Lazarus | Modi'in

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